People must ''rescue the Bible from the religious right'' and fight for civil rights to be extended to everyone, including gays and lesbians, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop said Tuesday night.
Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, told a crowd of about 150 people at Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad Law Center in Davie that society suffers from a system set up to benefit heterosexual couples, which he called ``heterosexism.''
Only straight couples can marry in most states. In the military, gays and lesbians work under a ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy.
And that system needs to end, Robinson said.
''We have lost the distinction between what the state does and what the church and synagogue does,'' Robinson said.
Robinson was named an Episcopal bishop in 2003. Afterward, several U.S. churches broke away from the Episcopal Church.
His peech Tuesday night at NSU was part of the university's symposium on sexuality, morality and the law.
Robinson cited the example of a man who beats up a gay man. A typical defense, he said, would be that the gay man made sexual advances at him. And some people, he said, would say that made the attack justified.
But he said a similar defense would not work if the gay man were a woman.
''Can you imagine how empty the streets would be if we locked up every man who hit on a woman?'' Robinson asked.
He urged Christians to take the Bible back from the ``religious right.''
As people change, their understanding of Scripture changes too, he said.
''Just because God is perfect doesn't mean we perfectly understand God,'' Robinson said.
During a question-and-answer session, two men implied implied that they disapproved of Robinson's homosexuality.
''Why do you know better or more than Jesus and the apostles?'' asked one of the men, Mike Ray, 36, of Sunrise.
Robinson replied, ``I would be very nervous about anyone who claims to know what God thinks.''
Both times, when the men tried asking more questions, the crowd booed.
Also in the audience was John J. McNeill, of Hollywood, an ordained Jesuit priest who said he was expelled from the Jesuit order after he criticized the Vatican's position on homosexuality. ''Having you come along and do such a beautiful job fills my heart with gratitude and joy,'' McNeill said.
Posted At Miami Herald